IMRaD or IRDaM? The anatomy of a research article
Research articles generally follow two standard formats, depending on the nature of the investigation. Although the headings in these structures may be named differently from journal to journal, these formats are commonly referred to as IMRaD and IRDaM. Each of these assemblies consist of an Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion although the order and structure of these components differ in each variant.
The IMRaD structure is the most common structure used in scientific writing. All articles in this e-Book follow this format. This structure is as follows:
- Results and Discussion
The IRDaM structure is typically used when a hypothesis is tested without having the experiments planned in advance, a progressive investigative trajectory where the results of one experiment inform which experiment should be undertaken next. These are otherwise known as sequential results. The IRDaM structure is composed as follows:
- Results and Discussion
Results and discussion
The Results and Discussion section generally constitutes the largest portion of the manuscript and is arguably the most difficult component of the paper to compose. There are many configurations of Results and Discussion sections preferred by authors and journals; possibilities include separating the two elements where the results and the discussion are reported in isolation or in combination where both the results are critiqued in a format that is logical and digestible for readers.
The Results and Discussion section provides the results for procedures set out in the Experimental section. Each experimental method must have a result, and conversely, each reported result must have a corresponding method reported in the experimental. Each result discussion section should end with a summarizing sentence for clarity; this will direct the reader through the narrative of the research.
Typically, the Results and Discussion section will explore some or all of the following criteria:
- How the results answer the research question set in the Introduction;
- How the results relate to other studies in the field;
- Why the result may differ from the authors' expectations;
- Any limitations of the study;
- How the research is a novel contribution relative to previous research.
- Was the tested hypothesis true?
- What was the result?
- What does the result mean?
- Why it makes a difference?
- Where do the results lead? Do the results obtained open other avenues for enquiry?
- What might the answer imply and why does it matter? What are the perspectives and implications for further research?
The conclusion is an opportunity to offer a concise take‐home message from the research, and for this reason, much like abstracts, they can be particularly useful for readers, editors, and reviewers who wish to underscore the salient information from a manuscript expediently.
In terms of structure, the conclusion is short and should be no more than a couple of paragraphs. The aim here is for precision, stating the main points of the research concisely.
This article is a short version of the comprehensive and freely available tutorial "How to write a research article for MRC", written by Paul Trevorrow and Gary E. Martin.
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